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Threshold calls for €20 million rent arrears fund to be included in upcoming Budget

The charity is calling for the funding to help tenants facing a rent crisis as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

NATIONAL HOUSING CHARITY Threshold is calling for a €20 million rent arrears fund to be included in the forthcoming Budget to help tenants facing a rent crisis as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The charity’s pre-Budget submission published today proposes a number of urgent measures to tackle issues in the private rental sector and in the wider housing system. 

As well as seeking specific Budget allocations, the charity is asking for amendments to policy and legislation. 

“The protections given to tenants during the Covid-19 crisis have had a significant impact in reducing homelessness,” Threshold CEO John-Mark McCafferty said. 

“However, there is a major risk of long-term indebtness among tenants and ultimately of evictions, and this is causing great uncertainty and fear,” he said. 

During the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis in Ireland, a range of protections were put in place for people affected by the pandemic. The rental protections during the emergency period included the ban on eviction notices and rent increases. These protections ended on 1 August. 

Those measures have now been replaced by new rental laws that protect tenants economically affected by Covid-19 who have fallen into rent arrears and who are at risk of losing their tenancy. These provisions apply until 10 January 2021. 

Threshold is now calling for a €20 million rent arrears fund to be made available to facilitate measures such as additional and enhanced financial supports for renters; long-term, low-interest, State-supported loans; and debt forgiveness schemes where necessary. 

“The job losses experienced on foot of the Covid-19 restrictions have had a disproportionate impact on private renters,” McCafferty said. 

“The loss of homes has only been staved off by the moratorium on evictions, which ran from March to August. The Residential Tenancies and Valuation Act 2020, which commenced in August, will delay evictions for some until January 2021,” he said. 

“While this is welcome, without practical financial supports, private renters in arrears face eviction when the protection ceases.” 

McCafferty added that “putting in place measures to allow tenants deal with their debt now will be more effective and less costly to the State than allowing tenants to be evicted for rent arrears and risk ending up in homeless services, whether now or in 2021″. 

Threshold is also calling on the government to provide the necessary resources for Local Authorities and Approved Housing Bodies to build 75,000 homes over the next five years. 

The charity’s pre-Budget submission also includes calls for 20% of the Carbon Tax revenue allocated to residential energy efficiency upgrades to be ring-fenced for upgrades to the energy efficiency of private rental properties. 

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